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Cradle Of Filth - "Hammer of the Witches" (CD)

Cradle Of Filth - "Hammer of the Witches" CD cover image

"Hammer of the Witches" track listing:

1. Walpurgis Eve (1:29)
2. Yours Immortally… (6:00)
3. Enshrined in Crematoria (5:46)
4. Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess (6:56)
5. Blackest Magick in Practice (6:50)
6. The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning the Coven) (1:51)
7. Hammer of the Witches (6:28)
8. Right Wing of the Garden Triptych (5:54)
9. The Vampyre at My Side (5:45)
10. Onward Christian Soldiers (6:59)
11. Blooding the Hounds of Hell (2:10)

Reviewed by on July 9, 2015

"This twelfth full-length studio album from the Filth hits all the expected notes, but it doesn't really knock any of them out of the park."

Let's face it: Cradle Of Filth is never going to fully recapture the blasphemous evil of “Cruelty and the Beast” (and it's doubtful any band in the modern era could – that was a very different time). The band is never going to fully sound like it did on “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh” or “Dusk And Her Embrace,” so that's a desire that should officially be shelved at this point. These are facts and no amount of wishing otherwise will change them, so the band really has to be judged at this point on how it sounds now versus how it used to sound in some mythical past time.

If you've been into anything Cradle Of Filth released in the last 15 or so years, “Hammer Of The Witches” will be a very familiar and overall solid listen that offers essentially everything fans have come to expect. The mixing of forceful guitars with symphonic evil is there, Dani's shrieks and screams are there, the over-the-top gothic atmopshere is there. Nothing's really missing – except for perhaps the heart and soul.

This twelfth full-length studio album from the Filth hits all the expected notes, but it doesn't really knock any of them out of the park. Unfortunately nothing particularly sets this one apart or makes it more interesting than “The Manticore and Other Horrors” or “Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa,” which both at least had some standout tracks that were more memorable than surrounding material.

“Hammer Of The Witches” kicks off with a horror movie score intro and then shifts into Dani's trademark shriek, letting the audience know exactly what to expect. The female gothic voiceovers show up on “Right Wing of the Garden Triptych,” and there are plenty of guitar-focused segments to strike a balance between the symphonic and metallic elements. Taking some cues from the instrumental material on “Evermore Darkly,” there are several orchestral focused tracks like “The Monstrous Sabbat” and ending song “Blooding The Hounds of Hell.” The longest track on the album – just shy of 7 minutes - “Onward Christian Soldiers” is an interesting ride and has a classic feel, although the odd addition of electronic sounds is a little clumsy and out of place.

Although there are some great guitar leads and an abundance of classic Cradle of Filth stylings, frankly “Hammer Of The Witches” is fairly forgettable and too by-the-numbers for its own good. Nothing really grabs you or forces you to listen in more carefully, and short of perhaps the gothic strumming on “The Vampyre At My Side,” none of the material here is likely to stick with you for long after the album ends. After more than 20 years of sticking it out in an increasingly hostile scene, it seems like the Cradle of Filth is in need of a recharge and some fresh ideas.

Highs: The guitar leads are great and the album has everything you've come to expect from Cradle of Filth.

Lows: There's nothing really new going on here, and while the material is familiar, it feels like the heart is missing.

Bottom line: Its Cradle being Cradle - this one is by the numbers, but will still have appeal if you liked the last few albums.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)